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Full text of "The Cambridge Natural History"

47$                      THE   SCANDINAVIAN   LEMMING                   CHAP.
Of JFiber zibethicus, or rather a closely-allied form, F. osoyoos-
ensis, from Lake Osoyoos near the Rockies, Mr. Lord writes l that
It constructs for itself a house of "bulrushes built up from the
bottom in 3 or 4 feet of water. It is dome-shaped, and rises
about a foot out of the water. " If a dead or badly-wounded
duck be left on the pool, it is at once seized on, towed into the
house, and doomed," Thus it appears that this Hodent, like so
many others, is largely carnivorous. It has also been asserted
that it eats fish.
Neofiber is an allied genus, North American in range. The
species, JVI allenit is compared, as regards outward form, with the
"Water-Vole, M. amphibius. It has, however, a shorter tail.
Another very well-known member of this sub-family is the
[Lemming. The name, however, applies to two quite distinct
genera. The genus Cuniculus, including the Banded Lemming,
C. torquatus, is an inhabitant of North America, Siberia, and
G-reenland. The tail is short, its length being 12 mm. as against
a body length of 101 mm. The feet are furred beneath, a not
unusual state of affairs in Arctic mammals. The ears are very
slight. The thumb is well developed, and bears a claw.
In Myodes, on the other hand, which is not so markedly
an Arctic animal, though occurring in both Palaearctic and
Nearctic regions, the ears are rather bigger, though still smaller
than those of M/icrotus. The under surfaces of the feet are
similarly furred. The tail is also short. It is commonly said
that the two genera are to be distinguished by the furred feet
of Cuniculus, and by the absence of fur in the present genus.
That, according to Tullberg, does not appear to be the case. The
differences are thus so much reduced that it seems almost un-
necessary to retain the two genera. The best known species of
My odes is of course the Scandinavian Lemming, M. levnmus.
This animal used to occur in this* country in Pleistocene times (as
did also O. torquatus), and recently Dr. Gadow has found remains
with skins attached in caves in Portugal. It may still survive
in the mountains of the Peninsula.
The actual habitat of the Lemming in Scandinavia is the
great tablelands, 3000 feet high in the centre. The migrations
do not take place with regularity ; even twenty years may elapee
before the appearance in cultivated lands of those countless
1 Proc, Zaol. Sec, 1863, p, 95.